Painted With a Nostalgic Brush: Portrayals of Small Towns in Anglo-Indian Diasporic Memory


  • Rochelle Almeida


In this essay, the author examines literature (both fiction and non-fiction) that delineates small-town Anglo-Indian life in the pre-Independence era. Although the word ‘authenticity’ in post-colonial literary criticism has been subjected to contested debate, it serves the critic’s purpose well in determining the accuracy with which the uniqueness of Anglo-Indian sub-culture has been recounted and preserved through the printed word. What emerges from such scrutiny is the fact that distance can lend both enchantment and disillusionment to the view. As departing Anglo-Indians became part of the global diaspora, their accounts of childhood and adolescent periods spent in railway townships and colonies were often rendered unreliable by the vagaries of memory that have contributed to the frequent occurrence of half-truth or exaggeration. Fortunately, because there still remain a few elderly Anglo-Indians among first-wave settlers in the UK, the author has been able to compare real-life reminiscences of small-town India with those depicted in literature in an attempt to authenticate shared experiences.